Archive for Tuesday, February 7, 2012

U.S. targets Iran’s Central Bank in sanctions

February 7, 2012


— Targeting Iran’s economy, the U.S. ordered tough new penalties Monday to further pinch the country’s financial system and encourage Israel to give sanctions more time before any military action against Iran’s nuclear program.

The new, stricter sanctions, authorized in legislation that President Barack Obama signed in December, will be enforced under an order he signed only now. They give U.S. banks new powers to freeze assets linked to the Iranian government and close loopholes that officials say Iran has used to move money despite earlier restrictions imposed by the U.S. and Europe.

The action against the Central Bank of Iran is more significant for its timing than its immediate effect. It comes as the United States and its allies are arguing that tough sanctions can still persuade Iran to back off what the West contends is a drive to build a nuclear bomb.

The U.S. and Europe want to deprive Iran of the oil income it needs to run its government and pay for the nuclear program. But many experts believe Iran will be able to find other buyers outside Europe.

The European Union announced last month it would ban the import of Iranian crude oil starting in July. The U.S. doesn’t buy Iranian oil but last month it placed sanctions on Iran’s banks to make it harder for the nation to sell crude. The U.S., however, has delayed implementing those sanctions for at least six months because it is worried about sending oil prices higher.


Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

This ain't gonna work. They're starting to do their trade with gold.

The Golden Rule: "He who has the gold makes the rules." - origin obscure

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

Should we have similar sanctions against Israel until they open up full inspections of their nuclear facilities and destroy their nuclear weapons?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

Israel never agreed to nor did they sign the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. As you know, countries that sign that treaty receive substantial assistance in return for opening their facilities to inspection and agreeing to not produce nuclear weapons. Because Israel did not sign, they neither received the benefits nor are they obligated to open their doors to inspection. Iran did sign the treaty, therefore sanctions are appropriate given the fact they have benefitted from having received favorable trade as a result of their agreeing to the treaty's terms.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

"Israel never agreed to nor did they sign the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. "

Well, that makes their hypocrisy wholly excusable.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

It's simply a contract. You do this and I'll do that. Israel chose not to sign while other countries chose to sign.
If I choose to buy a car and you don't, that doesn't make either one of us hypocrites. We simply made a choice that we believed to be in our best interests. What I can't do is drive the car around for a while and then decide not to make the payments without expecting some repercussions. But if I do decide to stop making payments, does that change your status as nothing more than a bystander to the original contract? The hypocrisy lies in signing a treaty, receiving the benefits provided, and then not agreeing to the treaty's obligations.

jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

Surprisingly, I agree with you on this one.

But, what if Iran hadn't signed, but was the same in other regards?

Would you then support their right to build a nuclear weapon?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

Each country has to decide that for itself, taking into consideration the reaction of the rest of the world. What I find interesting is that in the past couple of days, I mentioned a couple of times the examples of Israel destroying nuclear facilities in Iraq and Syria. We now have the benefit of hindsight. We see how events unfolded in Iraq and we see the current events in Syria. I can't imagine anyone saying the the world would be a safer place had Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons or if Assad had them now.
Clearly Israel violated international law and just as clearly, the world is safer for it. Yet, you, Bozo, have remained strangely silent on that issue. Others have skirted around it. I've always said, hindsight is something I wish I had. In these instances, I do have it. We all do.

jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

Why don't you answer the question?

If Iran hadn't signed the treaty, would you then support their right to build a nuclear weapon?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

If a pig had wings, it would fly. If. I have no idea. I think the world, every country and every citizen of the world has the right to look around and see what is in the best interests of the world as a whole.
Does China have the right to build coal fueled power plants by the thousands while the pollution it generates engulfs the planet? I don't know, given we have power plants that generate pollution. I suspect they have some right to do it, but that their rights are not absolute given that the effects are global. Would Iran have the right to build nuclear weapons if they had not signed the treaty? You're the one who likes to deal in absolutes, not me. I've been accused of having a double standard. No, I have many standards. Many, many. I choose to look at each situation, look at the circumstances, use my common sense and make individual decisions. I choose not to put my common sense aside and make absolute decisions. BTW - Speaking of not answering questions. With the benefit of hindsight, would you still argue that Israel's violation of international law was a bad thing visa vie their destroying facilities in Iraq and Syria?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

"If a pig had wings, it would fly. If. I have no idea."

So your hypotheticals are OK as elements of argument, but others aren't.

Yet another double standard.

jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

So, then your argument isn't simply that Iran is "breaching" their agreement.

Oh well, I can't agree with you any more.

It's wrong, in my view, to breach an agreement. So, if that were the argument, I'd agree with you.

But, when you then broaden the whole thing, and throw in numerous other reasons that you would likely deny them the right even if they hadn't signed it, you lose me.

The world would be a much safer place if nobody had nuclear weapons - why aren't you advocating for that?

It's clear to me that if the reason they don't have the right is the treaty/contract, then without that they would have the right.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

It's very difficult to put a genie back in a bottle. Yes, the world would be better off with zero nuclear weapons. The world would be better off with no weapons at all. The would would be better off with six billion fewer humans. Why don't I advocate for those things? Real world vs. dream world, I guess. Would you feel better if I said those things? Then sure. I want no violence. No illness, no pollution, no greed. Now want to talk about the real world? Your silence in deafening in regards to my examples of Israel's bombing nuclear facilities in Iraq and Syria. Bozo's silence was expected. But if you wish to be seen as a moderate voice, you must engage in discussions that challenge.

jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

First you say, Iran agreed to a treaty, and then broke their agreement, having received benefits.

I say, hey, I agree for once - they shouldn't have done that, and should abide by their agreement.

But then, when I ask about their rights if they hadn't done that, you make it about a dozen other things.

Your arguments lack clarity and focus.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

There are lots of countries in the world that have nuclear power plants but no nuclear weapons. Should Israel now destroy all of those plants?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

"It's simply a contract. You do this and I'll do that. Israel chose not to sign while other countries chose to sign. "

But Israel has paid absolutely no price for refusing to sign the agreement.

And a major part of the non-proliferation agreement was that signatory countries with "grandfathered" nuclear weapons would work towards dramatic reductions and even elimination of their stockpiles, which hasn't happened.

But as I've pointed out before, double standards are perfectly acceptable in your world.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

Read my comments above. I say plainly that not only am I O.K. with double standards, I'm fine with multiple standards. If that were not true, we could all just write a set of rules and follow them. No need to think. No need to examine if the rule makes sense here but makes no sense somewhere else. Do you have a book of rules that tells you what to think and when to think it? Is it small and red? And I again note your silence in regards to the issue of Israel's past bombings in Iraq and Syria. With the benefit of hindsight, would you dispute that the net effect of those bombings was beneficial?

jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

We have no idea.

Since we don't know what would have happened if things had been different - isn't that your argument above - If pigs had wings, etc.?

In the bigger picture, elimination of nuclear weapons, and people/nations finding better ways to solve conflicts other than violence would make the world safer.

But, for some reason, you don't advocate for that.

Multiple standards lack consistency and integrity, in my view, especially the way you're applying them.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

Simple rules work for a simple world. But in a very complex world, simple rules don't work and they won't work.
"Since we don't what would have happened" - That's the point, Jafs, We never know. I'm asking you to think. THINK. Put your little book of rules, international laws aside and think for yourself. Use your common sense. Dig deep.

jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

My common sense tells me different things than yours does, that's all.

Mine tells me that our actions often create enemies, and are counterproductive.

It tells me that we often support oppressive rulers that harm their own people, and then we're surprised when the people don't like us.

It tells me that we try to destabilize/remove democratically elected leaders because we don't like their politics, and then we're surprised when the people don't like us.

It tells me that we are one of the most violent developed nations on the planet, and the only one to ever actually use nuclear weapons, and yet we think we have some sort of moral superiority to other nations.

It tells me that we are extremely clumsy in foreign policy, both in philosophy and in action, and that we create many problems that are avoidable with a little preparation.

It tells me that simplistic "good guy, bad guy" thinking is generally wrong, and inadequate.

It tells me that short-term focus, without any sense of how we got where we are, is not very useful.


jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

"our actions create enemies" as does our inaction. As I wrote one the above comments, I was watching CNN and the events in Syria. Their citizens were calling out to the world to save them. The Kurds called out. The Libyans, etc. Act and we're screwed. Don't act and we're screwed. So we pick our fights, with mixed results. Hello real world. We support dictators and we ignore others. With mixed results. All the problems you mention can be solved by us building a very big wall around our country and ignoring all the events outside. Is that what you suggest? I've said many times we (and by that I mean our leaders as well as us individually) bumble and stumble along, making the best decisions at the time only to see with hindsight how we could have done things different. But rather than live by a set of rules that may be valid in one situation and equally invalid in another, we can try to learn from our mistakes and imitate our successes. And you STILL cannot bring yourself to answer my simple question? With the benefit of hindsight, was Israel's bombings of Iraqi and Syrian nuclear facilities a net benefit or not?

jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

I don't know - as I've already said. And, the focus is much too narrow for me. I'm much more interested in how the whole Iran/Iraq thing played out, how we armed Hussein against Iran, etc.

Also, as we've discussed, one has to look at the founding of Israel, etc.

Isolationism has a certain appeal for me, but it's ultimately not satisfying.

I would like to see us support freedom and democracy, and oppose oppression, and protect the weak from the strong.

That's not at all the same thing as supporting American culture, or capitalism.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

Our democracy has been a couple of centuries in the making and we've had a blemish or two along the way. To expect another country to simply walk into the freedoms we have and have the democracy we have is quite unrealistic. What's even more unrealistic is that they even want the freedom and democracy we have. We've had a long and complex history while other countries have long and equally complex histories. Even our closest ally has kings and queens, protectors of the state religion, etc. And that's the country we're closest to both in policy goals and history. Other countries that other cultures, other religions, other everything might view our culture as very alien, as we would view theirs. The best way of achieving your goals is to build that wall, but you don't like that wall, so we can't achieve your goals, unless we build that wall, but you don't like that wall ...

jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

If they don't want freedom and democracy, that's their choice, and I respect it.

Basically, I support the right of people to choose what they want.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

And if one ethnicity chooses to suppress another, more vulnerable ethnicity? Do we intervene? With all that can go wrong. Or do we allow genocide? I wish these were academic questions, but they're not. They are situations that arise all the time. And I can think of circumstances when intervention will backfire and times when success might be possible. And I can give a list of times when we hoped for a positive result only to be surprised when something very bad happened. Real world, baby.

jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

As I said, I'd like to see us protect the weak from the strong when the strong oppress and harm them.

That's one of the few very justified uses of force, in my view - self defense and defense of others.

But we need to be very clear that politics and rhetoric aren't clouding our view, and that we are sure we're intervening on the side of the oppressed, regardless of politics.

That would mean that if a capitalist regime is harming some socialists, we intervene on the socialists' behalf.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

So we go into the Hutu/Tutsi conflict with no idea of what's going on except that one side is killing the other? We tried to intervene in Africa just a short time earlier with disastrous results We allowed the "killing fields" in Cambodia shortly after the withdrawal from Vietnam. Are you saying we should have gone in? In hindsight, how could things turned out any worse than they did? Actually, I can think of many ways they could have turned out worse. Should we intervene in Syria today? Thousands are dying. But Russia supports Assad. And our results in that region don't give much hope. So we do nothing, allowing the killing, ignoring their cries for help?
The only guarantee I can give is that there is no good answer. So we bumble and stumble along.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

So you admit to being a hypocrite. And you even think that's a good thing.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

Are you a robot, Bozo? Do you give the same answer all the time, unable to learn and grow? The world is not black and white. I'm no hypocrite because I think that given different circumstances I will respond differently.
And while I mention to Jafs his unwillingness to answer my question, I remind you again of your equal unwillingness to answer. His unwillingness surprises me, yours does not. Not black, not white.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

You didn't list "circumstances," you posed a hypothetical and then tried to pretend it was fact.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

This thread is long and winding. Please state exactly to what you are referring and I will respond.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

You're only capable of one response-- anything Israel ever does is entirely justified, even if it takes a litany of double standards to achieve it.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

Hey, Bozo. Would this qualify in your definition of a hypocrite? Someone poses a question and expects a response, yet when asked a question, refuses to answer? Or how about this one. Someone asks for a source to back up a claim, but then refuses to provide a source when asked? Would such a person be a hypocrite? As opposed to my statement that I have many standards for many complex situations. NOTE: I did not say one for Israel and one for everyone else. Those were your words, not mine. I might have one standard for Israel and one for the Palestinians and another for Egypt and another for Jordan and another for Syria and another for the U.S. and another for Canada and another for Argentina and ..... It all depends.

jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

I've answered it twice now.

How many times do I have to do that before you notice?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

I've seen you dance around the issue. I see no clear answer to the question.
But then I suspect your answer, if honest, would look a lot more like my answer than you would like. No, they weren't justified and yes the the region is better off for them having done it. Shades of grey.

jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

I said I don't know, and that's the honest truth.

I don't know the details of the situation you refer to, and I can't predict outcomes with any certainty, as I've said numerous times.

In general, I can say that I think the world is safer without nuclear weapons, and I'd like to see all of them eliminated.

You focus in a very narrow way - let me give you a hypothetical to illustrate that:

I'm white, I walk into a bar in a black neighborhood and start throwing around racial insults. People get angry and come towards me to beat me up. Should I pull out my gun and shoot them or let them beat me up?

The common sense answer is not to do it in the first place, right? By the time you're having to make that decision, you've passed the point of good decision making.

Many of our political situations appear to me to be similar to that one - we do a bunch of stupid things, and get ourselves into some bad situations, and then have to make very difficult decisions.

Yet somehow we never wonder about the bunch of stupid actions that got us into that situation in the first place.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 3 months ago

I suspect that within your last post we've found some common ground, but I'd like to expand upon it. You said you don't know. Of course, neither do I but I'm willing to take an educated guess. But within that educated guess is the near certainty that I will be mistaken some of the time. And that's exactly my point when it comes to our leaders. We elect them to lead. They don't know, no one ever knows for sure. They take educated guesses and then act upon those guesses. With the near certainty that they will be wrong sometimes. Add to that what I think we agreed to was that there will be times when we act we will be wrong while it's also true that if we don't act, we will be equally wrong. I've said it's real world. It's also the nature of being human. We make mistakes when we act and we make mistakes when we choose not to act. And sometimes we make correct choices. Watching CNN today I see thousands dead in Syria. Do we intervene? Yes or no? I can think of problems with either choice. So can Obama. It's a fun game to criticize him no matter what he chooses. But it's a shortsighted criticism because he doesn't know the outcome anymore than you or I. What we can do is hope he makes the best decision. Of course, if he makes too many bad choices, we elect someone else and if makes good decisions, we re-elect him.
As to your hypothetical, of course the person provoked a confrontation. How might things play out if you stumbled into a bar in a foreign land where their customs are unknown (but knowable). Should you have known the words you said were offensive, yes. But did you know, no. But what if I said the knowledge of the offensive words were maybe, perhaps, could have been known? Maybe.

jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

It's nice to have some agreement :-)

The problem with the "stumbling, bumbling" of our leaders is that so many people around the world are harmed/killed because of it.

The guy in the bar has a much more limited impact.

It would be prudent, of course, if one is traveling in a foreign land, to learn the customs.

The problem, in my view, is much more that we are blinded by rhetoric, politics, and other distortions, which makes it hard to see things clearly.

So, oppressive rulers that are "friendly" to our "interests" look ok somehow.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

"bravado by Iranian politicians trying to exploit heightened tensions for their own political gain"

That's what it's all about. And not just by Iran.

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